September 25, 2008

moved by music

Through my listening, I come across a broad variety of music, not just in style but also in quality of both performance and engineering. It might be possible to become really jaded listening to and analyzing a lot of music, but I find that listening in this way allows me to be more moved by truly sublime recordings and performances.

Here are my most recent interests:

José González - not a new listen, but I saw this Sweedish artist (born to Argentinian parents) perform last night in Oakland for the first time. partly because of the venue (Yoshi's, a high quality, intimate jazz club, with a top notch Sushi restaurant attached), partly because of the company (Sarah and I joined the Martins for sushi and music), this was a great night already. but there's something otherworldly about González's voice and guitar playing. the recordings do him complete justice as an artist, so I recommend getting those, but don't miss him live.

John Doyle & Liz Carroll, In Play - I first heard Doyle on Masters of the Irish Guitar, and he stood out to me, apart from the others on the CD, as having a very clear sense of style amidst the brilliant speed and technique with which he played. a few weeks ago I decided to see what he was like as an accompanist and not as a purely solo act. This recording is just fiddle and guitar, all the way through, but is fantastic. It hasn't gotten old yet. The engineering is flawless but doesn't get in the way of truly great performances. As the cover art suggests, the album sounds as if they were seated around a table, as many sessions tend to be, spent over a Guiness or Bass, but without the distracting sounds of breaking glass and drunken moans in the background.

Charlie Haden - I've probably heard Haden play more than I realize; he's one of the top jazz bassists playing today. Sarah brought to my attention an NPR Weekend Edition story on a new bluegrass album that he produced with family and friends called Rambling Boy. A fun mix of bluegrass and jazz, the album includes performances from Pat Methany, Elvis Costello, Bruce Hornsby, and Jack Black (Haden's son-in-law... yes, the Nacho Libre). A highlight so far is the beautifully mourning "Spiritual", written and performed by Haden's son Josh. (also check out renderings of this song done by Johnny Cash and Pat Methany)

I could write about many many more things, but I should leave you with that for now. Perhaps this coul become a regular column.

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